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Girls & Women

A 10-Year-Old Rape Victim in India Just Gave Birth, Highlighting India's Serious Problem With Violence Against Girls

Vinoth Chandar/Flickr.

Around the world, young women and girls are all-too-often the victims of rape, sexual violence, and abuse. But a recent rape case in India is turning heads for a shocking reason.

On Thursday, BBC reported that a 10-year-old girl had given birth, in what officials say is the first-ever case of a child so young to give birth anywhere in the world.

The girl alleges she was raped multiple times by her uncle, who is now in jail, pending trial.

india school girlsImage: Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose/Flickr.

India has the largest number of sexually abused children in the world. In India, a child under 16 years old is raped every 155 minutes, and in 2015 more than 10,000 children were victims of rape, according to UNICEF.

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Officials told BBC that the baby and the girl are doing fine. The baby, born prematurely at 35 weeks, weighed 5.5 pounds, and is in neo-natal intensive care, where she will remain for a few more days. The 10-year-old girl, who gave birth by a caesarean section, is expected to remain in the hospital for up to ten days.

girl standing by toilets in indiaImage: Ignas Kukenys/Flickr.

The girl, who remains anonymous, is still unaware that she has given birth. Her parents told her during her pregnancy that her swelling stomach was caused by “a big stone in her stomach.”

Read More:These Indian Girls Are So Mad About Unsafe Schools, They've Gone on Hunger Strike

Her parents did not know the girl was pregnant until mid-July when they took her to the hospital after she complained of a stomach ache. The news came as a shock to her parents, who saw no other signs indicating their daughter could have been pregnant.

The girl has been described as “a healthy, chubby child,” by those close to her. She is shy and not talkative, enjoys drawing, and loves ice cream. She is a happy child, those close to her have said, despite her family being poor and living in a cramped, one-room flat.

Her parents reported feeling distraught when they discovered their daughter was pregnant; her mother cried often, and her father felt like his daughter had been murdered, according to policewoman Pratibha Kumari.

group of girls in indiaImage: Arian Zwegers/Flickr.

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In India it is illegal to terminate a pregnancy after 20-weeks inception unless a doctor confirms the mother’s life is in danger. The courts in India have received several petitions in recent years to make an exception for this law regarding children, many of whom miss the deadline for a legal abortion because they are unaware that they are pregnant.

A lawyer filed a public interest petition on behalf of the 10-year-old girl to allow her to have an abortion, but both the local court and India’s Supreme Court refused the petition, deeming the procedure would be “too risky” at 32-weeks inception.

The baby will be cared for by the child welfare committee before she is put up for adoption, an official told BBC.